Pharmacologic management of the opioid neonatal abstinence syndrome

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2012 Oct;59(5):1147-65. doi: 10.1016/j.pcl.2012.07.006. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


Opioid use in pregnant women has increased over the last decade. Following birth, infants with in utero exposure demonstrate signs and symptoms of withdrawal known as the neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Infants express a spectrum of disease, with most requiring the administration of pharmacologic therapy to ensure proper growth and development. Treatment often involves prolonged hospitalization. There is a general lack of high-quality clinical trial data to guide optimal therapy, and significant heterogeneity in treatment approaches. Emerging trends in the treatment of infants with NAS include the use of sublingual buprenorphine, transition to outpatient therapy, and pharmacogenetic risk stratification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Narcotics / therapeutic use*
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Narcotics